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The 4000 deaths that are estimated to occur in the future are based on how many millirem the most exposed population got.  These additional millirem are about the equivalent of someone moving from New York (natural background about 300 millirem) to northeastern Washington State (natural background:  1,700 millirem).  The exclusion zone of Chernobyl, though contaminated enough by reactor products to be more radioactive than it used to be prior to the accident. was a swamp with little natural uranium present and has now become about as radioactive as Spain or France already are naturally.

These are estimated deaths from cancers induced by radiation.  But the exposed population may not live long enough for the cancers to manifest.  This, sadly, is due to widespread psychological trauma from the accident and from being uprooted. It hasn't helped to have a corrupt and untrustworthy government. Depression, alcoholism, increased smoking, spousal abuse, all of that kind of suffering.  I am concerned that a similar state of affairs will occur among Katrina survivors.

See WHO, Chernobyl Forum 2005

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2005/pr38/en/

by Plan9 on Tue Oct 18th, 2005 at 11:36:54 PM EST
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You'll note that I said "die from Chernobyl", and didn't just cite cancer alone.

If you take a look at the report I linked to at the bottom of the thread, and the difficulties it describes in sorting out Chernobyl cancer deaths from background level cancer deaths, and the projections made using expsure / accumulation rates, you can see it says it could be as high as 24,000.

Of course, we are never really going to know, but as you point out, Chrenobyl's affects were much more widespread than just radiation poisoning etc.

Some 220,000 people had to be relocated, and huge areas still remain off-limits.

I see nuclear accidents as being rather similar to 1:100 or 1:1000 year floods - you have to build your risk analysis and mitigation strategies around them, and you have to assume that the 1 in 1000 or 100 year event could be next year.

Take a look also at the MIT research citing the rapidly escalating risk of a nuclear accident if the thousand or so more reactors are built, as has been suggested.

"This can't possibly get more disturbing!" - Willow

by myriad (imogenk at wildmail dot com) on Tue Oct 18th, 2005 at 11:56:34 PM EST
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